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Understanding temperature effects on recruitment in ... - Nature › publication › fulltext › Understan... › publication › fulltext › Understan...by T Régnier · 2019 · Cited by 10 — predict climate change impacts and recruitment variation. ... The present s

Understanding temperature effects on recruitment in the context of trophic mismatch T. Régnier   *, F. M. Gibb & P. J. Wright Understanding how temperature affects the relative phenology of predators and prey is necessary to predict climate change impacts and recruitment variation. This study examines the role of temperature in the phenology of a key forage fish, the lesser sandeel (Ammodytes marinus, Raitt) and its copepod prey. Using time-series of temperature, fish larval and copepod abundance from a Scottish coastal monitoring site, the study quantifies how thermal relationships affect the match between hatching in sandeel and egg production of its copepod prey. While sandeel hatch time was found to be related to the rate of seasonal temperature decline during the autumn and winter through effects on gonad and egg development, variation in copepod timing mostly responded to February temperature. These two temperature relationships defined the degree of trophic mismatch which in turn explained variation in local sandeel recruitment. Projected warming scenarios indicated an increasing probability of phenological decoupling and concomitant decline in sandeel recruitment. This study sheds light on the mechanisms by which future warming could increase the trophic mismatch between predator and prey, and demonstrates the need to identify the temperature-sensitive stages in predator-prey phenology for predicting future responses to climate change. Predictions about the effect of climate change on marine ecosystems are limited by our understanding of processes affecting species and communities1–3. As most aquatic organisms are ectothermic, temperature has a direct effect on physiological rates such as metabolic4,5, growth6 and maturation7, leading to variation in mortality8–10, distribution3,11,12 and phenology13. While most studies have focused on direct temperature effects at the individual species level, diverging phenology among trophic levels may have a more profound impact at both the population and ecosystem level14–16. The majority of studies that have considered changing phenology have either inferred changes from the temporal variability in the occurrence of a single taxa such as fish larvae or copepods 17–19 or compared general trends among trophic guilds across large spatial scales20,21. Neither of these approaches is amenable to identifying the mechanisms that lead to trophic mismatch, as information relating to variability in both the predator and prey responses is required. Consequently, it is important to understand how temperature affects the development of predator and prey and the impact this has on their respective phenology. The importance of synchrony in predator-prey phenology is central to several hypotheses relating to the cause of variation in fish recruitment. Hjort22,23 identified a “critical period” as starvation at the transition between yolk and exogenous feeding is a key determinant of larval survival and a driver of year-class strength. Later, Cushing24,25 proposed that the synchrony or match between hatching and an appropriate phase of the prey production cycle was an important selective influence on early growth and mortality (the ‘match–mismatch’ hypothesis). These hypotheses appear most relevant to species that spawn near the onset of the spring bloom, when small changes in the timing of zooplankton production and fish hatching can lead to substantial changes in the available prey resource26,27. Direct empirical evidence for mismatch is limited however, especially in relation to putative climate effects. Low recruitment has been related to warmer winters in many temperate and boreal species28–30, although temperature can sometimes be a poor proxy for the prey resource available to winter hatching fish larvae31. Declines in the large calanoid copepod, Calanus finmarchicus, has been linked to low recruitment in North Sea cod32. However, Capuzzo et al.20 found a relationship between recent declines in recruitment of several North Sea fish species, including cod, and a decline in small calanoid copepod species. While these simple statistical relationships suggest an important climate influence, it is difficult to evaluate the biological significance as they do not shed light on the underpinning mechanisms. In contrast, the data requirements of models that account for all the biophysical and food web interactions needed to adequately represent climate-driven effects on larval survival Marine Scotland Science, 375 Victoria Road, Aberdeen, AB11 9DB, Scotland, UK. *email: [email protected]

Scientific Reports |

(2019) 9:15179 | https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-51296-5




can be too demanding and complex to provide robust estimates of recruitment. Hence, statistical relationships based on key processes can be worth exploring. Due to their role as a key trophic link between secondary production and higher trophic levels, forage fish are an important determinant of marine ecosystem structure and stability, and climate-